For many car shoppers, the holiday season has become a preferred time to buy a new car. It wasn't always so.
Decades ago, November and December were quiet months in the retail automotive industry. Consumers were more focused on buying toys, sweaters and stocking stuffers than automobiles.
Then in the early 1990s, car dealers introduced Box Day promotions in an effort to stimulate the market, and the idea caught on with consumers. Boxing Day promotions soon expanded to Boxing Week specials, which were often extended into January.
Auto manufacturers realized the importance of the holiday season and pretty soon they, too, began rolling out aggressive, year-end promotions.
Black Friday, the first Friday after Thanksgiving in the U.S., has traditionally been the start of the holiday shopping season south of the border. Black Friday used to attract tens of thousands of Canadians to Buffalo for exceptional deals on clothing, toys and other items.
A few years ago, Canadian retailers, including car dealers and auto manufacturers, began offering their own Black Friday deals. Since then, Canadians have been discovering great deals in their own country without having to travel to the U.S.
So, why is December such a popular month to buy a new car? The obvious answer is because the potential savings are significant. Low finance and lease rates, generous cash credits and factory rebates are among the incentives offered by automakers at this time of year, in addition to dealer incentives.
These incentives all disappear at the end of December, which means that the current model year vehicles are more expensive to buy in the new year. Plus, dealers need to move excessive inventory to make room for the arrival of snow on the lots.
Auto manufacturers are especially motivated to end the calendar year on a strong note, and that means extremely competitive pricing and extensive advertising in traditional and digital media.
Each nameplate in Canada is looking to reach its year-end sales targets is eager to report good sales figures to their respective international head office, wherever that may be. This is a win for you.
With manufacturers motivated to end the year strong, dealerships eager to lower their inventory levels, and brand specialists/managers motivated to hit their sales targets, it provides car buyers with excellent negotiating opportunities.
Shoppers should also be looking for discontinued and leftover models, or for vehicles that haven't sold well and are in over supply.
Of course, buying a new car represents a serious financial commitment and consumers should always do their homework before buying. Buying a car must make financial and practical sense. Make sure that you consider the cost of borrowing, monthly payments, fuel consumption, insurance and depreciation costs, and maintenance costs.
Be prepared, too, to discuss additional products and services when buying a new car. It's a finance manager's job to present you with options that can add value to your purchase, and if you know ahead of time what items you want, then you can budget for them accordingly.
Even if you aren't ready to buy a vehicle right now, dealerships are ideal places to shop for the car lover on your holiday list. GPS systems, cargo boxes, back-up sensors, remote starters and brand attire are among the many items that would brighten any auto buff's holiday.
Many dealership websites contain links for accessories and brand merchandise, complete with photos, pricing and convenient purchasing options. Stay tuned to next week's column, where I'll discuss great stocking stuffer ideas!
With all of the great deals available now until the end of the year, and with the wealth of information that is available online, consumers are in the driver's seat.
Once again, the TADA is proud to support Prostate Cancer Canada. This year, our Association has donated a specially-modified 2015 Ford Mustang GT for the Rock the Road Raffle. For more information, visit www.prostatecancer.ca or www.tada.